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  P-38E Lightning Serial Number 41-2276  
11th AF
343rd FG
54th FS

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1942 via Ambrose

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Stephen Norris 2002
Pilot  1st Lt. Kenneth W. Ambrose (MIA / KIA / BR) PA
Crashed  November 28, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank as model 222-62-09. Constructors Number 222-5494. On September 4, 1942 delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38E Lightning serial number 41-2276.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 11th Air Force (11th AF), 343rd Fighter Group (343rd FG), 54th Fighter Squadron (54th FS). No known nose art or nickname. This aircraft operated from in California and Washington State then was flown northward to Alaska.

Mission History
On November 28, 1942 took off from Elmendorf Field piloted by 1st Lt. Kenneth W. Ambrose on a flight bound for Paine Field in Washington State where it was to be overhauled and a new fuel tank installed. Instead, it failed to arrive and was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). This aircraft was officially condemned on December 31, 1943.

In fact, this Lightning crashed into a steep hillside in the North Cascade Mountains in Whatcom County in the Pasayten wilderness to the east of Mount Baker. It crashed in a horizontal position and the force of the impact flipped the tail section up hill and at the same time much of the aircraft's parts broke off uphill from the impact spot. A fire occurred at the impact spot but was confined to a small area. It is suspected the pilot was killed on impact, or after parachuting out of the plane.

During 1998, this crash site was discovered by Chad Norris and Ben Lynch. The pair found four of the five guns and many parts with serial numbers. Parts of the cockpit were found but no seat, control wheel or parachute were observed.

Chad Norris adds:
"We found no evidence of human remains but our time at the site was shortened by bad weather and thus a more exhaustive search might be in order. We photographed the site and documented the tail number. The hillside is littered in unspent 50 cal. rounds and thus no military clean-up has been done. The site has not been disturbed in 59 years."

Ben Lynch adds:
"At first I was exhilarated having spotted a World War II plane wreck on the steep hillside. Seeing machine guns, large .50 caliber ammunition laying everywhere and plane parts scattered is not what one expects find hiking out of the North Cascades. I came home and proudly told my friends what Chad and I found. Then after a year or two, I became aware through Steve’s work that there was a father and husband inside the downed P-38 cockpit. My attitude toward the wreck changed instantly. I sincerely thank Steve for his continuous effort in solving the mystery. His work has brought proper closure for Ambrose’s wife and daughter. I wish the Ambrose family the best and hold Lt Ambrose in highest regard."

Recovery of Remains
During late August 2004, the P-38 crash site was investigated by JPAC and confirmed to be P-38E 41-2276. The team was led by Captain Funk and included anthropologist Sam O'Connell and Aaron Lehl plus a Sergent. Led by Stephen and Chad Norris, the group reached the crash site during a rain storm.

In the middle of July 2005, a JPAC recovery team performed a recovery of remains from this crash site, along with SBD Dauntless 36338. This was the first Joint Field Activity mission in the continental United States since 1996.

On May 18, 2006 Ambrose was buried at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery at section 16-C site 330. In attendance was his daughter Kathleen Edwards.

Kathleen Edwards (daughter of Ambrose)

NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Kenneth W. Ambrose
Individual Aircraft Record Card (IARC) - P-38E Lightning 41-2276
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-38E Lightning 41-2276
"2276 lost Nov 28, 1942 on flight from Alaska to Everett's Paine Field in WA. Pilot probably killed. Plane was condemned Dec 3, 1943, reported as scrapped Dec 31, 1943. The wreck was discovered in 1998 located on Mount Baker, WA in the North Cascades."
Solving The Mystery of P-38E 41-2276 by Cye Laramie
Stephen & Chad Norris - Washington State P-38 Discovery
Seattle PI - Missing flier comes out of thin air by Mike Barber August 31, 2003
Seattle PI - Mystery of missing WWII pilot may end soon by Mike Barber September 13, 2004
Seattle PI - Mother, daughter waiting a lifetime to say goodbye by Mike Barber February 20, 2006
Seatlle PI - After 64 years, a mystery is laid to rest by Mike Barber May 19, 2006
FindAGrave - Lieut Kenneth W. Ambrose (photo, grave photo)
Thanks to Stephen Norris, Chad Norris and Ben Lynch for additional information

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Last Updated
February 24, 2021


Tech Info

1 Missing
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